Effective communication of benefits to employees is critical if the employer’s goal is to maximize the impact and usage of their employee benefit program.
A successful strategy begins with an awareness that today’s workforce is comprised of no less than four generations, often with many employees working from home, in the field or from distant offices and all with varying comfort and familiarity with benefits and technology, utilizing multiple media formats to communicate with management and other intra-office personnel. As a result, it is important that any communication is designed with content and a format(s) that enables everyone to receive, read and understand the message being presented.
Admittedly, some personnel will prefer a paper guide or an office poster to obtain this information, while others will only open emails or utilize other technology like benefit administration platforms, for instance. The best method of communication for a particular business will vary, based on the capabilities, style and interests of their employees. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
In fact, in almost every office workspace there will inevitably be employees who ignore all forms of benefits communication and will instead come knocking on the HR department door with their questions. Although this is reality, the goal of an effective benefits communication program would be to reduce this behavior as much as possible, as it has the ability to overwhelm HR staff and distract them from their other responsibilities.
For this reason, it is important that those responsible understand their company’s worksite demographics and stay on top of the latest trends and developments in benefits, technology and communication methods to ensure that employees are fully aware of all aspects of their company’s benefit program. By doing so, employers will enable their staff to make sound benefit decisions and by having an engaged workforce, the employer will more effectively maximize the return on their employee benefit investment.
Here are a few keys to effective communication of employee benefits:
Communicate often… this can vary based on the needs and makeup of each employer group, but what’s important is that communication occurs at regular intervals. Communicating benefits prior to and at employee point-of-hire is important to assure effective enrollment for new hires and then ongoing, regular communications will help keep employees engaged throughout the year. Frequent communications will assure that employees continually receive information that is relevant and up-to-date.
Keep it simple… the content of communication should be in a format that all employees can understand. Employers should never assume that everyone on their staff is at the same academic and comprehension levels. The languages of employees within the organization should also be taken into consideration when developing communication materials. In many of today’s workplaces, benefits need to be communicated in other languages in addition to English.
Make it interesting… utilizing various graphics is nice, but more importantly, include innovative tools and incentives for reading and partaking in benefit presentations, like online quizzes, meal vouchers or even wearables and other prizes.
Utilize a variety of formats… Although paper formats may still be a mainstay of benefit communication, many in today’s workforce utilize technology heavily in their everyday life, so benefit communications should reach out to them in the manner they are most comfortable with…through the company website, intranet, email, texts, podcasts, etc.
Provide assistance to those who may need it… By providing a method for employees to contact someone with any questions they might have or for some additional assistance is a necessary component of a successful benefits communication program. The designated contact person(s) should be well educated on the corporate benefits program and able to respond promptly to the employee’s question(s). If the demographics of the company warrant it, the designated personnel should be bi-lingual.
Request feedback… the success of an effective employee communication program can be built on and measured based on feedback from employees. The use of an annual survey can reveal the strength or areas that need improvement.
PTC Benefits now offers enhanced communication solutions through the My Benefit Advisor program. My Benefit Advisor (MBA) is an employee benefits platform designed to guide employers through the complexity of planning, communicating and managing a successful employee benefits program. MBA is available to all members of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, for more information, visit us online at ptc.mybenefitadvisor.com or contact Craig Pritts at (724) 698-1347.